Wadena resident Karon Johnson was set to have the wedding of her dreams Saturday, March 28.
Johnson, 20, who is now known as Karon Thew, and her husband Arthur Thew, 19, went through a rude awakening in recent days when their wedding locations were closed and their wedding party had to be slashed to only the closest family members thanks to the arrival and spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The couple set their date and began planning for the March wedding six months ago. A wedding list of about 250 people ensured they would be surrounded by all their friends and family. Karon's mom Ann, trained in floral design, even did the work of creating all the arrangements ahead of time. Most of those will now go unused.
In the last week, the guest list steadily decreased from 250 to 100, then down to a socially distanced group of about 30 based on recommendations from local and state health departments. And their church, Christ Evangelical Lutheran in Brainerd, was also taking precautions against the spread but managed to allow the smaller wedding to take place. The couple decided to move the wedding up a week, marrying March 21 in an effort to wed before any further restrictions are enacted.
"We don't know what the next week entails," Johnson said prior to the wedding date. "As long as everybody is healthy, it's literally just going to be our family."
Watching the wedding plans deteriorate was difficult for the couple and Karon's parents Ann and Brent (Johnson) to watch. They also live in Wadena. Ann works in food services at a nursing home, so has a number of other concerns to deal with outside of helping prepare for the wedding. In the week before the new date, Karon was busy cleaning up the Wadena-Deer Creek headstart facilities while students were sent home.
"Its a low blow," Ann said. Karon is the couple's youngest child and they were hoping this could be all that Karon and Arthur had dreamed of. "It's a heartache."
Ann repeatedly shared that she was sure the end result was going to be good despite the turbid situation.
"We just have to have faith," Ann said.
That seemed to be strong with the soon to be husband and wife.
"It's not exactly like we wanted it to be," Karon said. "We definitely just want to be together."
"We're just making the most of a not so pleasant situation," Thew said.
The couple planned to have four bridesmaids and four groomsman but will now just have their bridesmaid and best man present.
Arthur, the son of Lauri and Jess (Thew), said aside from the wedding plans, his work to this point has not been impacted. He's been busy planning for planting with Dale and Andrew Schock on their area farms.
The couple didn't have plans of an immediate honeymoon, but may escape this summer, having faith that the pandemic concerns will have subsided.